By Jackie Ruiz, Editor
Foreign Exchange student, Alexandra Tchernaya, said it’s been a scary but exciting journey coming from Belarus, Russia to America for the first time. Tchernaya is known as Alexa Black by her friends at Senior High because, she said, they have a hard time pronouncing her last name.
“It was hard to adjust at first, but joining different activities like show choir and theater helped me make friends,” she said, “People welcomed me when I joined the Mary Poppins production and made it easier to transition here.”
She added that she has always wanted to come to America to study.
“I felt the need and want to move away from Russia,” she said, “Being in Russia doesn’t give you as many opportunities to be yourself as being here does.”
Tchernaya said that leaving her friends and family behind was one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do but that she doesn’t regret coming here.
“It was hard to say goodbye, but I don’t have any regrets,” she said, “If you asked me right now if I would do it all over again, I would say yes.”
Tchernaya said that she wanted to come and see the differences between Russia and America with her own eyes.
“It’s hard to explain, but living here is better because you can be yourself without being judged for doing what you like.”
She added that the Russian government makes her feel frustrated because starting a war would mean placing her family in the middle of it.
“Belarus will be in the middle of the fight because it’s near the Ukraine border, so I’m terrified for my family,” she said.
She added that she does not want to go back to Russia, but she plans on coming back to America as soon as she can.
“After this school year ends, I will go back to Russia and spend a year in my country. I am planning to come back (to America) to finish my senior year and go to a university to study a career,” she said.
Being a foreign exchange student is an incredible thing if you’re ready to face challenges and start somewhere new, she said.
“It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you’re going to do it, I suggest researching the idea as much as you can because it’s not as easy as people make it seem,” she said.
Tchernaya explained that people often struggle with home families and adjusting to school.
“Life here is different and it takes time to adjust. I’ve met people from different countries who wanted to go back home because they weren’t fitting in at their new school.”
She said that schools in Russia are different because students don’t have the support from teachers and staff that everyone here has.
“You don’t really get to choose what classes you want to take in Russia and sports aren’t free because our government doesn’t pay for funding,” she said, “Teachers get mad at you for missing class because of performances.”
Tchernaya said that she will miss her friends the most when she has to go back to Russia.
“There are people that I’ve met here and connected with that I don’t want to lose,” she said, “I hope we can stay in touch somehow.”
Tchernaya said the main thing she will bring back to Russia is that you shouldn’t be judged for doing what you love to do.
“I’ve learned here that you can be yourself without having to feel scared. I can’t wait to come back and go to university when I do,” she said.